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Sunday, December 1, 2019

098 - The Peace Unravels

In this episode, we discuss the years 421-418 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the breakdowns of the Peace of Nikias; the rise of Alcibiades to prominence at Athens; the differences that arose between Sparta and some of their dissident allies; the diplomatic maneuverings that resulted in the quadruple alliance between Athens, Argos, Mantinea, and Elis; and the decisive Spartan victory at the Battle of Mantinea

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 5)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Plutarch's Life of Alcibiades
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

**Special Guest Episode on Mesopotamian Medicine w/Moudhy Al-Rashid**

In today's special guest episode, I am joined by Dr Moudhy Al-Rashid, Post-Doc at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom. Her current research focuses on the use of metaphor in descriptions of mental distress in cuneiform medical texts, and she teaches classes on the Akkadian language and the history of science and medicine in ancient Mesopotamia.

Dr Moudhy Al-Rashid
Post-Doc at Wolfson College, University of Oxford

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Sunday, October 6, 2019

**Special Guest Episode on Classical Monsters and Popular Culture w/Liz Gloyn**


In this special guest episode, I am joined by Dr. Liz Gloyn, Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, in the United Kingdom. Her primary teaching and research areas focus on the intersections between Roman social history, Latin literature, and ancient philosophy (particularly Seneca the younger and his approach to Stoicism and the family unit). This research led her to publish her book, The Ethics of the Family in Seneca. But Dr. Gloyn also has a strong interest in classical reception, particularly the history of women as professional academic classicists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as the classics in popular media, such as film, television, and young adult fiction. 

It’s that last bit that will be the focus of today’s episode, as Dr. Gloyn and I discuss her forthcoming book, Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019). This work is the first in-depth study on classical reception and monsters in Anglo-American popular culture from the 1950s to the present day. Throughout the book, Dr. Gloyn reveals the trends behind how we have used the monsters, and develops a broad theory of the ancient monster and its life after antiquity, investigating its relation to gender, genre and space to explore what it is that keeps drawing us back to these mythical beasts and why they have remained such a powerful presence in our shared cultural imagination. Specifically, her book takes us through a comprehensive tour of monsters on film and television, from the much-loved creations of Ray Harryhausen in Clash of the Titans to the monster of the week in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, before examining in detail the post-classical afterlives of the two most popular monsters, the Medusa and the Minotaur. 

Dr. Liz Gloyn
Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London

Elizabeth Gloyn

***You can order Dr. Gloyn's new book here (Bloomsbury Publishing or Amazon)***

Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture

Saturday, September 28, 2019

097 - The Road to Peace

In this episode, we discuss the years 423-421 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the death of Artaxerxes and the succession struggle that ends with Darius II on the Persian throne; the continuation of Brasidas' Thracian and Macedonian campaign; the ‘Wasps’ and ‘Peace’ by Aristophanes; and the deaths of Brasidas and Kleon during the second battle of Amphipolis, culminating in the “Peace of Nikias” and the end of the Archidamian War

Primary Sources: 
Aristophanes' The Wasps
Aristophanes' Peace
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 5)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

096 - Athens on the Offensive

In this episode, we discuss the years 425 and 424 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the conclusion of the First Sicilian Expedition and the Congress of Gela, the Athenian seizure of Kythera, the battles of Megara and Delium, and the beginning of Brasidas' Thracian campaign

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 4)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

095 - The Greek World Turned Upside Down

In this episode, we discuss the years 426 and 425 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the current nature of Athenian politics as dominated by Kleon the anti-aristocratic demagogue, his feud with Aristophanes as seen in the comedic plays "The Acharnians" and "The Knights", the Battles of Pylos and Sphacteria that turned the Greek world upside down, and the brutal conclusion to the Corcyraean civil war

Primary Sources: 
Aristophanes' The Acharnians
Aristophanes' The Knights
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 4)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

**Special Guest Episode on Being a Modern Homeric Bard w/Joe Goodkin**

In this special guest episode, I am joined by Joe Goodkin, a Chicago-based singer/songwriter, who tours the country performing his one-man folk-opera interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey. He has performed his Odyssey over 290 times in 38 U.S. states and Canada.  Joe's Odyssey is part lecture, part musical performance, and part interactive discussion. The centerpiece of Joe's Odyssey is a 30 minute continuous performance of 24 original songs performed only with an acoustic guitar and voice and with lyrics inspired by Odysseus' famous exploits. 

We talk about how he was able to combine his Bachelor's Degree in Classics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his years as a professional musician to create something extremely unique, and discuss his methodology and his own odyssey towards creating the Odyssey, as well as what it’s like to be a modern bard and how that has shaped his understanding of not only the Homeric poems but the context in which ancient audiences would have experienced the. Then, we discuss his experiences of performing at the NJCL (or National Junior Classical League), which is where we first met, as well as in high schools and at universities, our views on the field of Classics at large, what it means to be “non-traditional” classicists, and what we can do and have been able to do to promote Classics to a general audience and why that is important.

Joe Goodkin

**You can read an article Joe wrote about being a modern bard here.

To inquire about booking a performance of The Odyssey (or anything else) please contact Joe at

Saturday, June 22, 2019

**Special Guest Episode on Translating Thucydides’ Speeches w/Johanna Hanink**

In this special guest episode, I am joined by Dr. Johanna Hanink, Associate Professor of Classics at Brown University in Providence, RI. Her primary teaching and research areas focus on various aspects of Greek antiquity and its legacy, but she is especially interested in Classical Athens, particularly the cultural life of the city's 4th century BC, and the strange relationships between modern politics and the ancient past. She is active in Brown’s Program in Modern Greek Studies and serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Modern Greek Studies and EidolonShe is the author and editor of a number of articles and books, including Lycurgan Athens and the Making of Classical Tragedy (Cambridge University Press 2014), Creative Lives in Classical Antiquity: Poets, Artists, and Biography (Cambridge University Press 2016), and The Classical Debt: Greek Antiquity in an Era of Austerity (Harvard University Press 2017), which explores how Western fantasies of classical antiquity have created a particularly fraught relationship between the European West and the country of Greece, especially in the context of Greece's recent "tale of two crises.” Her most recent book, How to Think about War: An Ancient Guide to Foreign Policy (Princeton University Press, 2019), is the topic of today’s conversation. 

"Why do nations go to war? What are citizens willing to die for? What justifies foreign invasion? And does might always make right? For nearly 2,500 years, students, politicians, political thinkers, and military leaders have read the eloquent and shrewd speeches in Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War for profound insights into military conflict, diplomacy, and the behavior of people and countries in times of crisis. How to Think about War presents the most influential and compelling of these speeches in an elegant new translation by classicist Johanna Hanink, accompanied by an enlightening introduction, informative headnotes, and the original Greek on facing pages. The result is an ideally accessible introduction to Thucydides’s long and challenging History."

I am very excited that Dr. Hanink agreed to come onto THOAG to discuss what it was like to translate Thucydides and the deeper meaning behind many of his speeches.

Dr Johanna Hanink
Associate Professor of Classics at Brown University

Sunday, May 26, 2019

094 - New Leaders and New Strategies

In this episode, we discuss the years 427 and 426 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the destruction of Plataea, civil wars in both Megara and Corcyra, and Athenian campaigns in Sicily, central Greece, and northwestern Greece

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 3)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

093 - Revolt in the Empire

In this episode, we discuss the years 428 and 427 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the introduction of Kleon and Nikias, the revolt of Mytilene (Lesbos) from the Athenian empire, and a "prison-style breakout" from Plataea

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 3)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

092 - The End of an Era (Part II)

In this episode, we discuss the years 430 and 429 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including a failed Spartan invasion of Zakynthos and Acarnania, Phormio's naval victories at Rhium and Naupactus, an Athenian debacle at Spartolos, the end of the siege of Potidaea, the death of Pericles and Phormio, and a Thracian invasion of Macedonia

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 2)
Plutarch's Life of Pericles
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

091 - Attrition and Plague

In this episode, we discuss the first year and a half of the war (431-430 BC), as both Sparta and Athens initiated their war strategies, including a Theban sneak attack on Plataea that began the war, Peloponnesian land raids on Attica, Athenian naval raids on the Peloponnese and northwestern Greece, Athenian alliances with Odrysian Thrace, a famous funeral oration by Pericles, and a deadly plague that devastated Athens

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 2)
Plutarch's Life of Pericles
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

090 - The Road to War

In this episode, we discuss the two events over 433/2 BC that led Pericles to claim that he could see war "coming out of the Peloponnese" (the Potidaea Revolt and the Megarian Embargo); the speeches given by the Corinthians, Spartans, and Athenians on the eve of war; and both sides' financial and military resources, war arms, and tactical strategies

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 1)
Plutarch's Life of Pericles
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

**Special Guest Episode on Ten Caesars w/Barry Strauss**

In this special episode, I am joined by Dr Barry Strauss, a Professor of History and Classics at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on the history of ancient Greece and Rome, war and peace in the ancient world, history of battle, introduction to military history, and specialized topics in ancient history. Dr Strauss is a widely acclaimed military and naval historian who has spent years researching and studying the leaders of the ancient world and has written and spoken widely of their mistakes and successes. As such, he is a recognized authority on the subject of leadership and the lessons that can be learned from the experiences of the greatest political and military leaders of the ancient world (including Caesar, Hannibal, and Alexander, among many others). Some of the numerous books that he has authored include The Battle of Salamis (2004)The Trojan War (2006)The Spartacus War (2009)Masters of Command (2013)The Death of Caesar (2015), and his newest book, Ten Caesars (2019)

Dr Strauss also has appeared in more than a dozen television documentaries and radio programs (see, and has published op-ed pieces in several popular media outlets (see Recently, he has upped his public history to a new level by creating an ancient history podcast, called Antiquitas.

So it’s with great pleasure that Dr Strauss came onto THOAG and in the lively conversation that followed we discussed his new book, the Ten Caesars, his podcast Antiquitas, the importance of public history, and leadership lessons from the ancient world.

Dr. Barry Strauss
Professor of History and Classics at Cornell University

About | Barry Strauss

***You can order Dr. Strauss's book here (Simon & Schuster or Amazon)***

Ten Caesars | Book by Barry Strauss | Official Publisher Page | Simon &  Schuster

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

**Special Guest Episode at MFA Boston w/Phoebe Segal**

In today's special guest episode, I am joined by Dr. Phoebe SegalMary Bryce Comstock Curator, Greek and Roman Art, at Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA). She gave me a one-on-one tour of their new Daily Life in Ancient Greece” exhibit (in Gallery 212A-B) and allowed me to record our conversation while doing it.

***Clarification: This is not a special exhibition. It's a permanent collection gallery.

Phoebe Segal - Mary Bryce Comstock Curator of Greek and Roman Art - Museum  of Fine Arts, Boston | LinkedIn

Museum of Fine Arts - Renovation - Stavros Niarchos Foundation

(1) How did the exhibit begin?
(2) How were the various categories of “daily life” decided upon?
(3) What was the determining factor in the aesthetics and overall layout of the exhibit?
(4) Are these all pieces that came from the MFA’s Art of the Ancient World collection or are there any newly acquired pieces specifically for the exhibit?
(5) What was the process like to get the objects ready for the exhibit?

"Death was a family affair, and in Athens children were obliged by law to provide a proper burial for their parents. All over Greece grave monuments appeared on the roads leading out of towns. From the 5th century BC onwards, wealthier families owned their own burial precincts; they commemorated their loved ones with carved images of farewell scenes. Such works tell us a great deal, especially about women’s lives and roles in mourning."

"Marriage was a crucial institution in Greek society. While still teenagers, women were betrothed to men in their 20s or 30s. The Athenian wedding was a festival that lasted three days. The first day comprised sacrifices, ritual bathing, and the beautification of the bride. On the second, the procession and feasting took place. Day three, gifts were exchanged. The imagery on Athenian vases gives us a glimpse into these rituals. Wedding scenes became very popular in red-figure vases after 450 BC and are usually found on vessels used in a nuptial context—bottles for perfumed oils, bathing vessels, and various ceremonial jars. Ancient women looked to the goddess Aphrodite—the consummate seductress—as a model for their own beauty rituals. On view here are objects central to women’s beautification, including mirrors, cosmetic vessels, and bottles made to hold expensive perfumes. All were essential to a young woman as she prepared for the most critical and memorable event of her life: her wedding. Objects of personal memory, important to the women who used them, were frequently found buried with their owners."

"Usually, in art, young children appear in the company of women: mothers, sisters, aunts, or women slaves working in the house. When father and son appear together, it’s often in the form of a poignant farewell—the son departing for a war from which he may never return. Artists also turned to myth, portraying legendary families in scenes that modeled both positive and negative behaviors. There are also objects that allow you to see what it was like to be a kid in ancient Greece, showing you what activities children did on their own and with their families. Most of the objects here were dedicated either as gifts to the gods when children crossed into a new phase of life (such as puberty for boys and marriage for girls) or as grave gifts when they died prematurely. Together, they demonstrate how adults cared for and catered to the needs of children; how they cultivated in them a sense of belonging in the community; and how their families chose to remember them."

Miniature wine jug (chous) with boy playing with dog, 425 BC

Miniature wine jug (chous) depicting two boys boxing, 425 BC

"Textile manufacture was central to the sustainability of any Greek household. An intensely collaborative process, it was overseen and carried out chiefly by women. Since few ancient textiles survive, images of women engaged in spinning, weaving, and sewing and the implements they used (spindle whorls, loom weights, and needles) provide evidence of their production. Wool was the chief fabric (sheep were everywhere in Greece), while linen and silk were imported for finer garments. Textiles served not just for apparel but also for furnishings (mattresses, cushions, covers) as well as wall hangings and window coverings. In ancient Greece, dress embodied and communicated various aspects of identity: gender, status, and even ethnicity. Among the many garments work by Greek men and women, the peplos, chiton, and himation were the most common. Only women wore the peplos, a woolen dress famously associated with the goddess Athena. Women and men alike sported the linen chiton (and its shorter version, the chitoniskos) and the woolen himation, a kind of mantel. Garments were given shape by pins and belts rather than tailoring. Vibrant dyes and woven patterning distinguished finer attire. Manufacture was extremely labor intensive and therefore clothing was highly valuable."

"Medical practice was an art – a gift from the gods. Greek philosophers taught medicine, and famous medical schools existed at Knidos, in Asia Minor, and on the island of Kos, where Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” pioneered a method based on observation and reason. Doctors today still take a version of his Hippocratic Oath, swearing to practice ethically. Greek texts reveal that patients suffered a host of maladies, including cancer (especially breast cancer); typhoid fever; pneumonia; tuberculosis; chicken pox, arteriosclerosis (a hardening of the arteries). Treatments ranged from drugs and purges to surgery, using instruments similar to those on view here."

Medical Instruments

"Butchers to barbers, doctors, shoemakers, vintners, fishermen and farmers: the Greeks worked all manner of jobs. Artisans and artists included the potters who made the vases throughout this gallery and the painters who decorated them as well as sculptors, metalsmiths, and more. Both the state and private individuals profited from enslaved labor in a variety of settings – from quarries and mines, to the home, and beyond. Archaeological evidence at Athens suggests that metalworkers, potters, and terracotta sculptors (coroplasts, “modelers of small figures”) lived and worked in close proximity. Coroplasts used molds like the ones in this case, pressing thin pieces of moist clay into them layer by layer. (Molds for the front and back of sculptures were sometimes tied to together with string.) Once the sculptures were leather-hard, accessory molds might be added for details, while other features were incised by hand. Often figurines were hollow; the bottoms were left open (or vents added) to allow steam to escape during firing process."

Two-handled jar (amphora), 500-490 BC

Fragment of drinking cup (kylix) with man decorating a kylix, 480 BC

Drinking cup (kylix) with man painting a head, 510 BC

Mould of a Youthful Face, 330-31 BC

Barber cutting a man's hair, 500-475 BC

"The Greeks depended on agriculture to prosper and thrive. Producing a surplus of food meant some members of society could be free to pursue other essential functions. Ancient farmers often diversified their crops, growing cereals and grapes in addition to olives – which could be risky and expensive to cultivate. Favored livestock were sheep and rams because they provided milk, wool, and meat. They were also the preferred animal to be sacrificed to the gods, so many miniature versions are found in households and sanctuaries as votive offerings. Donkeys and oxen were used for transport and heavy lifting. Fish and olive oil have been staples of the Greek diet for millennia. Unlike hunting (which was associated with the wealthy) fishing was embraced by all levels of society. And all Greeks ate fish, fresh from the waters, salted, dried, or smoked. Greece was also the Mediterranean’s main olive oil producer – a part of Greek culture identity. A component of ritual and social gatherings, a prize for athletic victors, it was also used for bathing, leather tanning, as a base for perfumes and unguents, and of course cooking."

Fish Hook, 5th-4th cent BC

Fishing net needle, 5th-4th cent BC

***To see other items in the exhibit that were not discussed in this episode, please check out the MFA's digitized collection here.